Today, I sent this email to the government department that is SUPPOSED to be processing our paperwork.
Dear [name of person in charge],
My husband and I have been approved by [assessing agency] to adopt from Ethiopia. Our papers were sent to the [department] on the 11th of February. Tomorrow, ten weeks will have elapsed, and we are still waiting for our Certificate of Eligibility. [ie, the thing without which we cannot do this thing. The thing that is stopping our papers going to country. And the thing whose delay means we won't be adopting before court closes this year. And no, these square brackets weren't in the original email]. In fact, we are still waiting for written acknowledgement of our application and an official case number! We are writing to let you know how unhappy we are with the wait times, and the way these wait times have been handled by the [department].
We know, from reading the notes of a meeting held with prospective China adopters back in January, that the plan was for the ICA [intercountry adoption] team to take a maximum of three weeks for each stage of processing after the end of March. This seems like a perfectly reasonable time for this sort of paperwork to be processed, and we were really encouraged to read these notes when they became available. However, when I spoke to a member of staff this week (late April) and said that we had been waiting for our C of E for ten weeks, the response was 'well, the website says that it takes about eight weeks'. Her clear implication was that after ten weeks I shouldn't be dissatisfied! No interest, and definitely no apology. If the website said sixteen weeks, would that be okay? Twenty weeks? Similarly, I asked why we hadn't had a response to the email that we wrote two weeks earlier (stating that we had then been waiting for our C of E for eight weeks, and asking for an update) and again, the only response was 'well, the website says that it takes fifteen days to respond to written communication'. The fact that the website states it takes fifteen days to reply to written communication does not make that acceptable! Two weeks waiting for a reply to an email of this nature is astonishingly poor.
The person I spoke to then said that I would get my C of E this week. Or maybe it won't be the C of E. Maybe it will be the acknowledgement letter. And maybe it won't be this week. Maybe it will be next week. Can you see why this is frustrating?
I have now contacted (or tried to contact) the ICA team three times, and each time I have been fobbed off, completely ignored, or treated with indifference. From talking to other adopters, I know that others have had the same experience.
The people who are processing our paperwork need to understand how important this paperwork is is to prospective adopters. They need to understand that we aren't waiting for them to do something trivial. The paperwork they are processing is, for us, a key step towards being matched with our child. When I speak to members of the team, I want to be treated with respect, rather than indifference. It's hard to express just how upsetting it is to be waiting for something so important and be ignored or fobbed off by someone who openly doesn't care.
In short, it seems to me that there are two key problems: the processing is heartbreakingly slow, and nobody seems to care that the processing is heartbreakingly slow. I would really like the first to be fixed, but if that is impossible I would settle for the second!
So all of this leaves us with the following three questions:
1) When on earth are we going to get our C of E??
2) Will we have to go through the same torture waiting for our papers to be sent to country?
3) What is being done about the two problems above?
We would really appreciate a reply - preferably in much less than fifteen days!
[Claudia and Mr Claudia]
(waiting for C of E ten weeks tomorrow)
I'll let you know if we get a reply!